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‘Hospitality will be among last areas to open’ cabinet minister confirms

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Delayed reopening: pubs were ordered to close by the Prime Minister on Friday 20 March
Delayed reopening: pubs were ordered to close by the Prime Minister on Friday 20 March

Related tags: Coronavirus

Pubs, restaurants, hotels and other hospitality businesses will be one of the last sectors to exit lockdown, minister for the cabinet office Michael Gove has said.

On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show ​yesterday (Sunday 19 April), Gove said the Government would make a “balanced judgment” about relaxing lockdown restrictions.

Marr asked: “It’s clear you’ve got an awful lot of work to do until we can talk about a general unlocking, the Government’s made it clear this morning (19 April) already that schools are not going to reopen next month (May).

“Can I ask you about things like hotels, pubs, restaurants. Are we going to see them reopening before the winter?”

Gove responded by confirming the Government has rebuffed claims about schools reopening next month (May) and outlined the importance of making an equal decision.

Among the last

He said: “I think, again, it’s entirely understandable that you should ask this question but we want to make sure we make a balanced judgment about which restrictions can be relaxed at what time.

“You’re quite right to say that we have stressed the reporting in today’s (Sunday 19 April) newspapers that schools will open on 11 May, that is not true, we have not made that decision.

“The other inference I draw from your question, which is that areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lockdown, yes that is true, they will be among the last.”

The cabinet office minister went on to highlight how science will guide the Government on easing restrictions.

Gove added: “But, one of the things I think it is important to stress is you talked about a general lockdown.

“This virus has changed so much. It’s a new virus of great potency and lethality, it spreads remarkably fast.

“We want to ensure we can get on top of it. We also want to ensure the economic life of the nation, the social life of the nation, can return over time.

“But, even as some restrictions are lifted, the way in which our schools, the way in which our shops and factories operate, will change as a result of what we know about this virus and what we know about social distancing and, of course, we want to make sure that the best scientific advice guides us as we take an approach to easing these restrictions in the right way with appropriate safeguards.”

Special case

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said hospitality faced a unique problem as all businesses are built around socialising.

She added: “When the lockdown ends, and even if social distancing measures are relaxed, many businesses will not be able to operate fully and some might not be able to open at all.

“Customers may also feel nervous about going out into a potentially crowded setting too. Our sector needs to be a special case when it comes to the furlough scheme.

“We will not be able to go from zero to 100 overnight. The Government must ensure it provides continual support for businesses in our sector, specifically the ability to keep staff furloughed where they need to.”

British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin called on the Government for extra support for pubs to help ensure their survival.

She said: "We are clear that unless the Government gives specific support to pubs now, thousands of them in communities across the UK could be lost for good and with them, hundreds of thousands of jobs too.

"As the heart of the community and social hub that binds people together, losing pubs would be a tragedy.

"When this crisis is over, we will all want to go to the pub so it is vital the Government does everything it can to help them right now."

Related topics: Legislation, UnitedWeStand

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